It’s almost time to head back to school, and, if you’re like me, that probably means you have some butterflies in your stomach. While starting school can be exciting, it can also be one of the most stressful and anxiety-ridden times of the year. Use the tips in this post to help reduce your back-to-school stress!
Ditch the Back-to-School Stress Tip #1: Set Boundaries Around Your Time
This is important not just during the beginning of the school year, but throughout it: set boundaries around your time.
The beginning of the year can be full of lots of useless meetings, well-intentioned colleagues who want to hear all about your summer, and committees looking for new volunteers. These can be time sucks during the part of the year when you need every minute.
If you need time to plan or prep your classroom, do everything to protect the precious work time you have. This might mean keeping the lots off in your room, so no one knows you’re there. It could mean saying no to lunch with coworkers in order to finish those bulletin boards.
Whatever you do, protect the time you do have to get ready for the year–because there’s already just never enough time.
You can read this post for some in-depth ideas for keeping your time boundaries sacred.
Ditch the Back-to-School Stress Tip #2: Say “No” to Extra Responsibilities
Piggybacking off of the previous tip, learn to get comfortable saying “no” to extra requests–especially ones that don’t come with any extra pay.
If you’re already stressing about the new year, do you need to add volunteer coaching? Or heading a new book study? Do you even want to participate in your principal’s new pet project committee?
Remember that “no” can be a complete sentence–and get comfortable saying it.
Ditch the Back-to-School Stress Tip #3: Know Your Classroom Rules, Expectations, and Non-negotiables
Nothing adds stress like unruly students. While you can’t control your future students’ behaviors, you can try to get ahead and mitigate some of their negative actions.
But don’t wait until the last minute–you may need to gather some resources to create streamlined classroom protocols or to get some feedback from your colleagues.
Even knowing simple procedures–like how your students will pass in work or what offenses result in students heading straight to the dean’s office–will help you respond to your students in the moment.
Clearly communicating your expectations and the consequences of not meeting them during the first week will also help your students’ anxiety. Give them and yourself every chance at success this year by planning for it!
Ditch the Back-to-School Stress Tip #4: Plan The First Unit
You don’t need to start the year with a lesson plan for every calendar day. However, knowing what you’ll be teaching–and how you’ll be teaching it–during the first few weeks can really take some pressure off of you.
If you are teaching a novel study first, I highly recommend this post on planning a novel study quickly.
Regardless of your first focus, plan the unit before stressing about the next one.
Ditch the Back-to-School Stress Tip #5: Make All of Your First-Week Copies
Once you know what you’ll be teaching, go ahead and make your copies for the whole first week. Don’t forget to make some copies of a few backup activities as well.
Walking into your classroom on the first day knowing you don’t have to rush to the copier–and fight every other staff member to use it–will make that first week so much smoother.
Ditch the Back-to-School Stress Tip #6: Plan Something to Look Forward To
Lastly, there’s probably no way to eliminate all of your back-to-school stress. So make sure you have something fun to look forward to once you survive the back-to-school blues.
I always tried to have a vacation scheduled when I was in the classroom. This gave me something to dream about and look forward to on the hard days.
You don’t have to plan a whole vacation though. It could be drinks with coworkers or friends on the weekend. Maybe it’s a concert you’re looking forward to in a few months.
Just make sure that you have something on the calendar to get you through the hard days.
While you probably can’t get rid of all of your back-to-school stress, you can help reduce it with some simple planning.
Make sure you have a plan for your lessons, your classroom management, and your life outside of school. The more prepared you are, the less your heart will race during those first few days.
And remember, once you get past the initial beginning, you’ll get to know your students and the stress will get better!